Since pot smoking was legalized in Washington and Colorado in 2012, there’s been no end of media coverage. One of the latest bits, by Maroosha Muzaffar, appeared recently in the Education Life supplement in The New York Times. (Unfortunately, there’s no link available.)
Muzaffar writes that The University of Colorado-Boulder has had a “campus smokeout” on April 20 for more than 10 years, with more than 10,000 attendees. The group would light their joints, or bongs, I suppose, at 4:20 p.m. on the nose, in unison with other pot smokers around the world.
Last year, though, the university cracked down. It sprayed fertilizer that smelled like fish and closed the campus to the public, and posted police in SWAT gear. The same accompaniments were planned for this year (minus the fertilizer). The authorities were worried that people will come from other states to enjoy their seemingly greater freedom this year.
However, a school representative was quick to remind people that the amendment does not allow smoking in public and there’s still a federal ban on pot. He said that the school was worried about safety and the disruption of campus activities.
I had to think about the headline accompanying Muzzafar’s piece for a minute—“10,000 Tokes Over the Line?” It took that long to realize that it was a takeoff on the title of a 1970s song by Brewer and Shipley -- “One Toke Over the Line” that was pretty popular during that decade. Readers of a certain age undoubtedly remember the song that began:
“One toke over the line sweet Jesus / One toke over the line / Sittin' downtown in a railway station / One toke over the line”
When I checked the news on 4/21, it turned out that the college officials had closed the campus in an effort to deter the smoke-in. (It wasn’t clear in the first article that they were planning to go that far.) As a result, celebrants assembled at Civic Center Park in Denver instead, and there were two shots fired. (These types of gatherings are held throughout the country every year on April 20—who knew?).
NBC News reported that three people were wounded at the park and commented that “The shootings came at a sensitive time for Colorado marijuana activists, who are closely watching proposals from state lawmakers on the rules that will govern the sale of small amounts of pot to people 21 and older.”
There’s news on the general smoking front as well, from HealthDay: “Genes May Dictate Teens' Susceptibility to Heavy Smoking”, but I’m wondering if the information isn’t obvious. In a four-decade long study conducted in New Zealand, researchers found that teens who scored high on a genetic risk profile and tried smoking at age 15 were more likely to get hooked than teens who didn’t score as high and tried smoking later. Somehow I would expect this because it sounds so similar to what happens with drinking—the earlier you start, the greater the chance you’ll get hooked.
The genetic risk profile wasn’t explained but it sounds like it hinges on whether the teens’ parents smoked. We know there’s some genetic correlation when it comes to drinking.
Still, as I’ve found with so many studies that seem self-evident, the purpose of some research studies may be to back up what someone think is true, so who am I to criticize?